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The Conclave Begins: Picking A Pope

The cardinals sit down in Rome. The conclave begins. We look at the politics and prayer of choosing a new pope.

From left, US Cardinals Justin Francis Rigali, Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan, Francis George and Roger Mahony leave the North American College to go to the Vatican's Domus Sanctae Martae, the Vatican hotel where the cardinals stay during the conclave, in Rome, Tuesday March 12, 2013. (AP)

From left, US Cardinals Justin Francis Rigali, Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan, Francis George and Roger Mahony leave the North American College to go to the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Martae, the Vatican hotel where the cardinals stay during the conclave, in Rome, Tuesday March 12, 2013. (AP)

Today it’s on.  The cardinals in their conclave in the Vatican in Rome.  In the Sistine Chapel, no less, where Michelangelo’s painted vision of God reaches out on the ceiling to touch the hand of mortal man.

The cardinals gathered to choose a pope.  It has been a fraught month for the Catholic Church.  The first pope in centuries to step aside alive.  A swirl of scandal around the Vatican and beyond.  Deep issues still for devout Catholics and for doubters.

This hour, On Point:  at the intersection of history, politics and prayer, we look at the cardinals in their conclave in Rome.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Rachel Donadio, Rome bureau chief for the New York Times. (@racheldonadio)

Thomas Reese, Jesuit priest and director of the Religion and Public Policy Program at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. (@thomasreesesj)

Dennis Coday, editor of the National Catholic Reporter. (@dcoday)

Kathleen Cummings, associate Professor of American Studies and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN “The Sistine Chapel is ready. The new pope’s clothes are laid out. Now it’s up to the cardinals. The work to elect a successor to retired Pope Benedict XVI begins in earnest Tuesday, with a morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. The service — open to the public — will be the last public event featuring the 115 cardinals who will choose the new spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.”

National Catholic Reporter “As has been well reported by Joshua McElwee and John Allen, there are currently no frontrunners in the papal election. This could easily change in the next few days before the conclave starts, but it is surprising granted that it has been almost three weeks since Pope Emeritus Benedict announced his resignation. One would think that at least a couple of frontrunners would have surfaced by now.”

The Washington Post “The cardinals could pick a pope on the very first ballot on the first afternoon of the conclave, though that would be surprising; in recent conclaves, popes have been selected after at least two days of balloting.”

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